When someone says “pattern photography,” the first thought is an obvious pattern — say, stripes or dots. The word “pattern” itself denotes a repetitive sequence, form or design.
Truthfully, patterns can be quite boring or quite transforming in photography.
It might be hard to immediately identify a pattern in the photo above, but when you look more closely, you’ll see that both sides of the image are mirror images. They create a two-part pattern that complements the lines in the road. This is a very simplistic pattern that can be achieved in Photoshop or you can find a location that does it for you.
Another great example is the walkways at churches or even a pier at the beach:
Finding patterns in everyday life
Rather than take a bunch of photos with obvious patterns for the sake of this post, I searched through my existing body of work to find examples of patterns (which was far more difficult) to show how the eye works in an everyday setting. Finding the patterns in everyday life is what makes pattern photography fun.
Below is an image of my daughter sitting in front of a static-filled TV screen — it is reminiscent of the old movie Poltergeist. What makes scene in the movie so eye-catching was the pattern. (Well, perhaps also its overall creepiness of it, but it still made an impression.)
Another example of unintentional pattern photography: my daughter’s feet surrounded by tire tracks. I felt that this was an important shot. To most, it would mean nothing; to me, it was the original mode of transportation and where we are today.
Because I am a bit of a rebel, this is the closest thing to a purposeful pattern I could find. I was at the beach with the family when I noticed this amazing building. I took this shot with my cell phone. I could not help but fall in love with the repeating pattern of the siding, the stair railings and the sudden diamond at the roof top. It looked to me as though the water were flowing up only to be stopped by the break in the waves.<
Creating your own patterns
In this next example, I used an umbrella as an accessory and edited the American flag onto it. This was a sort of parody of a trend (or pattern!) in photography at the time of umbrellas, kids in bathtubs, and of course, the American flag.
Patterns do not have to be taken literally. When using patterns in your photography, do not forget to include meaning. Photography can be taken literally and it can be taken with a grain of salt. Next time you hear about pattern photography, think about what you can do that is outside the same old box of crayons and duplicated fence boards.
What does pattern photography mean to you? We’d love to hear from you!
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